Bread, cash, moolah, paper, dollars, money. No matter what you call it, we all know money talks but it’s also a topic that’s often avoided – until now.

Money Talks* is a Slice of Culture series where we ask real people in Hudson County not only how they make their money, but also how they spend it, specifically during a seven-day period. 


Occupation:  Intern

Industry: Asset Management

Age: 23

Location: Jersey City, NJ

Salary: $40,000

Debt: $40,000 (loans from college)

Paycheck Amount: $1500 biweekly

Pronouns: He/him/his

Monthly Expenses/Subscriptions

Rent: $0

Metrocard/SmartLink: $40

Spotify: $12

Etc.: $50

Did your family expect you to attend higher education? Did you attend? If so, how did you pay for it? 

Yes. Yes, I did. I paid for it via federal loans. Both subsidized and unsubsidized. 

Growing up did you worry about money? Were there conversations about money in your household? 

To an extent. I became more concerned about money as I started becoming an adult. You quickly realize that the world revolves around it and life is difficult without it. Only conversations I had were that I should save money and not spend it. Not much more than that.

At what age did you learn how to manage your finances? Who taught you about finances? 

Maybe 14? When you start getting a paycheck you realize how quickly you can spend it. Eventually, you start wanting to save more and you seek out the correct resources to educate yourself on how. 

Do you have a savings account? If so, when did you open it?

I do not because the interest gain is worthless. Money dies if it sits in a savings account.

What was your first job? What prompted you to begin working?

I worked at a dry cleaner. My mother got me the job because it was a good time for me to learn what it’s like to have a job, and I could make my own allowance. 

When did you become fully responsible for yourself? Do you worry about money?

I don’t live alone so I wouldn’t say I’m fully responsible for myself yet. I worry about money because I understand what it’s like to be without it. Once I can set up a financial safety net, I don’t see why I would have to anymore. 

Do you have a financial safety net? Have you ever inherited income? If yes, explain.

Lol, I didn’t even read this before I wrote out my last answer. I do not yet. I’m not earning passive income great enough to cover a lifestyle. I do not have any inherited income and have not received a dollar from my family since I was maybe 16? (Aside from a birthday/Christmas gift). 

Spending (Wednesday-Tuesday)

Day One:

There’s actually a coffee machine at the office that I work at but it only makes hot beverages so I make a quick trip to a local coffee shop for an iced latte because I personally prefer most of my drinks as cold as possible. $5.50

After a few hours of work, I also went out to pick up lunch. $12.25

  • Day Total: $17.75
Day Two: 

I woke up super late this day, but was able to leave early enough to grab myself breakfast right before clocking in. $11.61

I went to Prato, a nearby bakery and regretfully overspent on a flatbread sandwich. Any other occasion I would’ve just left, but being limited by time I decided to just spend the money so I wouldn’t be hungry. 

Later on I picked up lunch again. $10.65

I think being under $10 for lunch would be ideal but it’s pretty hard to do (unless I’m eating something unhealthy like McDonald’s or something greasy). 

Later that night I ended up at an open gym that I’m usually invited to. I try stay active and play at least twice a week. $10

  • Day Total: $22.26
Day Three: 

TGIF. Another day at work so I spent an average $5 for a morning iced latte. 

And luckily kept my lunch at $10 today too. 

I ended up going to my friend’s house after the 9-5 to work on our side hustle. Staying in on a Friday night kept me from spending more money. 

  • Day Total: $15
Day Four: 

It’s the weekend, usually when I’ll spend the most amount of money. 

On my days off, I obviously want to go do something but thankfully I resisted any urge to shop today. 

Instead my girlfriend and I just went out to grab a bite to eat for lunch. $24

  • Day Total: $24
Day Five: 

Sunday. The day of the week to relax and do nothing.

This week I stayed in and spent the day doing chores. 

I didn’t leave the house so I didn’t have to spend any money. 

  • Day Total: $0
Day Six: 

It’s a good thing I didn’t really spend any money on the weekend because holy shit!

I bought myself my usual iced latte before work. $5

Then about an hour into the workday, I was still feeling sleepy so I decided to grab a coffee with my girlfriend. I bought her coffee and myself a tea. $7

Later on we ended up going out for lunch together so I bought mine and hers as well. $20.50

After work, I was going to my gf’s house and her sister is usually there hanging out with us so of course, I’m going to include her when I pick up dinner for us all. $25

Then a little later I went to my usual Monday night basketball and paid for my run and a friend’s (I owed him for a previous run). $17

  • Day Total: $74.50
Day Seven: 

I thought I would’ve learned my lesson yesterday but nope. Today was different than usual since I was leaving work early to go get my second vaccine shot.

I got my morning latte and bought a light rail ticket since the police were out in the morning. $6 latte & $2.25 ticket

I went to grab sushi for lunch and FaceTimed my gf and she asked for me to bring her and her sister some (she’ll pay me back for this by getting me lunch or something a different day). $30

I ended up leaving work early and bought a bus ticket to get to my gf’s house because I was taking her car to go get my second vaccine shot. $1.60 

Went and got my second dose but on the way back I grabbed something to eat and drink. $12

My girlfriend ended up dropping me off at home and I was feeling pretty good so I decided to go to Tuesday open gym since they started them up again and I didn’t want to miss out on my favorite run. 

I borrowed my mom’s car and paid for the open gym at the door. $8

On the way home I realized that the car was low on gas so I filled it up for $20 and that was the end of the day. $20

  • Day Total: $79.85

Is this what a typical week of spending looks like for you?

This week was much more than I’d regularly spend. I average about $10-$20 per day on a normal operating basis. I met with some friends, and I bought lunch for my girlfriend and me twice in the week (and it’s not that I spent double because of her, but even my share went up). 

Some days I spent a lot and others not at all. I rarely have a reason to spend money on the weekdays besides my usual coffee and maybe lunch. 

*Disclaimer: This series and questions were inspired by Refinery 29’s Money Diaries.

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